As a mother to a child with special needs, Leah Carroll understands that young children may be curious about her son's disabilities. Recently, Carroll and her 5-year-old son were enjoying a meal at Chick-fil-A when she overhead questions and saw stares headed their way from a mother and her children.
However, she did not expect what happened next and was pleasantly surprised. "I sensed your panic when your 5-year-old son pointed at my son in his wheelchair and shouted, 'Mom look at THAT boy!'' Carroll shared on Love What Matters Facebook page. "You leaned forward and quietly told him and his 3-year-old brother that we don't say things like that and they shouldn't point or stare."
Carroll waited because she knew the children's curious minds would soon want their questions answered. "When you realized your whispers weren't working I saw the panic disappear and you took a deep breath and took a step of courage," she wrote. "You brought your boys over to Malachi and said 'I bet he would like to know your names!'"
When the children came up to her son Malachi, he started smiling and chatting with them. She said that the children's mother would never understand how much she appreciated their interaction.
"The joy on his face brought tears to my eyes- he loves kids his age but so many are fearful to come and speak to him," she said. "Your boys continued to ask questions about his foot braces, his wheelchair, why his legs don't work, why he holds his mouth open like that."
Carroll added, "You took the time to educate your sons in that moment and help them understand that different is okay. Different is not something to fear. And that it was okay to ask questions! Thank you for giving my son a chance to meet your kids."
She continued to thank the mother for educating her children. "Thank you for being the type of mom who educates your children instead of frantically trying to silence them," she said. "Special needs moms have to develop tough skin — we get used to stares, comments, and whispers. Please know it takes a lot to offend us, particularly when the comments are coming from young children. Give your kids the same grace we give them and use the opportunity to teach them about differences."0comments
She concluded, "So Chick-Fil-A mom, thank you for raising your children to embrace children like Malachi. And thank you for giving my son something to smile about."